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The Coast's Fall Preview 2013: Dance & Theatre 

Tread the boards with the best onstage happenings in town

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DaPoPo Theatre's Live-In

October 1- 31 at The Living Room, 2353 Agricola Street dapopolivein2013.blogspot.ca

Five years ago, the members of DaPoPo Theatre hatched a clever idea for financing rehearsal space. Why not book the TNS Living Room theatre on Agricola for an entire month, rehearse during the day and host paid performances and readings at night?

Thus, the Live-In was born, and has become a much-anticipated and very popular event on the Halifax fall arts scene.

The theme of this year's Live-In, which includes performances, readings, workshops and special events, is The Personal is Political.  

"Part of DaPoPo's mandate is to pursue political theatre," says the company's artistic director Garry Williams. "But that can also mean looking at what we do as individuals in our everyday lives. Actors' choices can make an impact. The types of stories that are being staged and that audiences are seeing have an impact. There's a lot to discuss and to think about."

Williams is particularly excited that the Live-In is hosting Sky Gilbert, the co-founder and artistic director of Toronto's Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. Gilbert will be reading from a new work called Hackerlove about Bradley Manning and Adrian Lamo and conducting a workshop on approaches to playwriting.

While this month-long festival is shaped around a profound topic, events such as parties, cabarets and even a Thanksgiving pot luck offer plenty of opportunities for the theatre community and public at large to mingle, talk and enjoy. --Kate Watson


White Rabbit, Red Rabbit

September 24 to October 5 the Bus Stop, 2203 Gottingen

Here's a play that you may want to see more than once. In fact, with a different actor starring each night, and with the scheduled actors comprising a good portion of Halifax's "who's who" on the theatre scene, you may be tempted to see all 14 performances.

The play was written by Nassim Soleimanpour, a conscientious objector who has not been allowed to leave Iran because of his refusal to serve in the military. He wrote the play as a way to connect with strangers across the world, and speaks through the actor reading his script.

Rabbit is a play that requires no set and no director, and each night's actor will see the script for the first time when they step on stage. Talk about being on the hot seat!

This groundbreaking and original piece of theatre is brought to Halifax by DMV Theatre in association with Aurora Nova Productions. --KW


Refuge

In 2010, an Eritrean refugee named Habtom Kibreab took his own life in Halifax after learning that his refugee claim had been denied by Immigration Canada and that he was almost certain to be deported. Mary Lynk made an award-winning documentary called Habtom's Path for CBC Radio about his story, and now a play, based partially on that documentary, is premiering on the Neptune Studio stage.

Written by Mary Vingoe and co-produced by Eastern Front Theatre and HomeFirst Productions, Refuge is a mixture of imagined and verbatim text from the radio interviews set within the fictional world of the characters involved.

This powerful play shines a light on Canada's byzantine refugee system and the toll that it takes those seeking refuge. --KW


Live Art Dance

Executive director Paul Caskey calls the 31st season of Live Art the "busiest season ever." The season launches with Austrian performance company Liquid Loft bringing the theme of busy to the stage. Absurd, beautiful, funny, disturbing, theatrical, Running Sushi kicks off the 2013-2014 season with a laugh and some nudity. "It comes from the fringe," says Caskey. "It's a dance show, wrapped up in theatre cloak. It takes place in live sonic environment, it's visually stunning, provocative and funny."

Inspired by the Superflat visual art movement, Running Sushi is a duet that takes a look at identity and self-image in our screen-obsessed world. (September 26-28, Sir James Dunn Theatre, 6101 University Avenue).

"We're interested in dancemakers who are defining the edge of the wedge," says Caskey. "People have asked how the explosion of So You Think You Can Dance has effected the dance world. One one hand it's been great, but on the other hand audiences want these short, snappy pieces with a narrative like 'well this is about a couple who are having a hard time'...it's like 'Oh my god, no.' That's not what it's about."

This season also features the world premiere of Lisa Phinney Langley's Phin's Grand Hotel (October 3-5, Sir James Dunn Theatre). "That's something we've really invested in," says Caskey. "It's gorgeous. It's a simple set, something that when I first saw it I wanted to crawl on stage with them, it's really engaging that way." --Stephanie Johns


Uncle Oscar's Experiment

October 9-20 at Fort Massey United Church, 5303 Tobin Street

Zuppa Theatre is kicking off its 13th season by dusting off and shining up its "medical, musical fantasia" Uncle Oscar's Experiment. This production will include an impressive new set by Katherine Jenkins-Ryan, new lighting by Jessica Lewis and new costumes by Leesa Hamilton with Kathleen MacCormack, as well as a cast made up of Kiersten Tough, Stewart Legere, Ben Stone and Susan Leblanc.

First commissioned 10 years ago by Two Planks and a Passion Theatre, the story had its seeds in D.H. Lawrence's "The Rocking-Horse Winner," a sad tale of greed and magic. In Zuppa's Uncle Oscar, Felicity Luckless, a supposedly cursed young woman who seems to bring death wherever she goes, seeks the help of medical pioneer Dr. Oscar Smitthison-Burke and falls in love with his strange manservant Gregory.

Expect blood, guts and stomach-churning medical experiments as this tale is told in the Grand Guignol theatre tradition. And expect great music as well, composed and arranged by Jason Michael MacIsaac and David Christensen. --Kate Watson

dance

Fall for Flamenco

Since the 18th century, statuesque poise, fluid movement and Spanish guitar create a dramatic, hypnotic art form known as flamenco. From October 25 to November 4, the eighth Fall for Flamenco Festival presents performances by international dancers, workshops and free events all over HRM.

A dance that has grown in popularity, the festival highlight will be the Frightening Flamenco Fiesta (October 31). Artistic director Maria Osende says the affair will be elegantly Halloween-themed.

"The show will feature a jaw-dropping performance by national and internationally acclaimed flamenco stars," she says. Flamenco dancer Miguel Tellez returns to Halifax by overwhelming demand. The Fred Astaire of flamenco dominates the stage with grace and an astonishing sense of rhythm.

"Miguel will share the stage with the very beautiful Canadian flamenco dancer Ilse Gudiño from Toronto," says Osende. "The compelling sounds of the flamenco soul will be provided by virtuoso guitarist Jose Vega and the voice of singer Caridad Vega, one of Spain's most promising and accomplished singers."

This year, the Festival features the unique "From Spain with Love" at theatres outside of HRM. "It will be the very first time that a male flamenco dancer appears on those stages," Osende says.

The Festival hosts events that celebrate the essence of flamenco and its transnational origins; the dance draws on Arabic, Spanish and Romanian traditions. "Flamenco originated from a fusion of cultures. And we live in a multicultural society and we embrace that fact," says Osende. "We want to show people that flamenco is for everyone, and that is why it has become so popular worldwide. --Adria Young


More Please!

Steel Magnolias. STEEL MAGNOLIAS, OK? Theatre Arts Guild puts on the classic tearjerker until October 5 at the Pond Playhouse. I'm placing bets on audience members trying out their best southern accents for the rest of the night, calling long lost pals and crying. Dartmouth Players dries the tears with apocalyptic Canadian comedy Blackpool and Parrish (November 6-23, 33 Crichton Ave) dealing with good, evil, phys ed and "an aggressively Bohemian artist" and Brit legend Eddie Izzard keeps the laffs coming at the Cohn on November 10 and 11. Halifax's brand new independent theatre company Demasquer Theatre presents A Healthy War, written and directed by company founder and artistic director Bethany Lake. Set in 1916, A Healthy War follows an Irish soldier fleeing the armed insurrection of Easter Rising to Halifax, but discovers leaving everything behind is not as easy as he thought (September 26-29, The Living Room, 2352 Agricola Street. 8pm nightly, 2pm matinee on Sep 29). Kinetic Studio offers three weekends in October with Rhonda Baker to workshop and create a new work (presented informally, so don't be too shy) at DANSpace Sunday, October 27. Kinetic Studio's first show of the season is November 16-17 at DANSpace (1531 Grafton) with both Explorations program recipients, Liliona Quarmyne and Janice Jackson. Sports fans can rush their bums into the soft seats of Neptune Theatre for Michael Melski's Hockey Mom, Hockey Dad starring Heather Rankin and Kevin Kincaid. Running October 15-27 Melski brings his romantic comedy home. Rankin and Kincaid play two lonely single parents supporting their children from the sidelines of the minors. Love ensues. For more Neptune news, see page 34 to read about The Comedy of Errors. —SJ

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